Book iii, chapters vii through xiii. joseph andrews

240 views

Published on

  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

Book iii, chapters vii through xiii. joseph andrews

  1. 1. . Analysis. The Quack-Doctor turns out to be devilishly insightful when he designs his Socratic prank to appeal to Adams's moral gravity, his devotion to Greek literature and philosophy, and of course his vanity; as critic Homer Goldberg remarks, "An invitation to present one of his treasured sermons would be welcome in any circumstance; to do so in the role of Socrates before an imaginary royal court . . . is irresistible." Much as the prank exposes the parson's familiar foibles, however, it is one part of a long episode, the general effect of which is surely to increase the reader's protective sympathy for Adams and indignation for his tormentors. Following the scene of Adams's "roasting," however, Joseph continues his return to the spotlight. The abduction of Fanny is the first time the young couple have been menaced since they reunited in Book II, and it is a more serious and frightening attack than was the attempted rape that heralded Fanny's entrance into the story. In the earlier incident, the danger to Fanny (still unnamed at that point) came to the reader's attention only as Mr. Adams and his crabstick were about to spring into action; here we learn of the Hunter's criminal designs long before he enacts them and long before Joseph and Adams have caught on, and we are aware of the great importance of Fanny's welfare to Joseph's strand of the plot. The shift toward greater suspense regarding the fate of Fanny is consistent with the general raising of the stakes in regard to the lovers' plot and with the refocusing of the narrative onto the lovers. In terms of characterization, though, more remains to be said about Fanny as a magnet for attempted sexual assaults, of which the current episode is the second of three. Unlike Joseph when he is under assault from Lady Booby and Mrs. Slipslop, Fanny never even attempts to extricate herself from these encounters on her own; instead, she awaits the intervention of various male protectors, at least one of whom will always be providentially on hand. The thematic point of these episodes of near-rape would seem to involve the distinction Fielding would like to draw between lust on the one hand and virtuous physical love on the other. Only the violent characters ever try to force Fanny to gratify their desires, and forcible gratification appears to be the only kind of sexual gratification these characters can imagine. Many readers have considered Fanny a less than satisfactory character; her passivity and attractiveness to sexual predators may appear to serve the plot rather too conveniently. At best, her psychology must be said to be
  2. 2. uncomplicated. Fielding seems to have designed her to be a perpetual victim, for she not only outdoes Mr. Adams in naïveté but adds an element of chronic passivity as well. To the former point, she made herself vulnerable to the first assault when she accepted a strange man’s offer to accompany her on a country road at night; it was a rather stunning error that emphasized her compliant nature. She is, as Fielding said in Book II, Chapter XII, “extremely bashful.” Individual readers may decide whether her thoroughgoing docility makes Fanny too simply a damsel in distress or whether, on the contrary, the flatness of her characterization arises realistically from the simplicity that Fielding suggests is an attribute of true goodness. Peter Pounce, whose welcoming Adams into his coach leads to a comical exchange between innocence and hypocrisy, is more sharply characterized, and he provides a vital contrast to Mr. Adams. Peter has a dilemma: fearing the schemes and envy of others, he feels compelled to downplay his own fortune; simultaneously, however, he is proud of his success as a part-time finance capitalist and likes to hear people marvel at how well he has done for himself. His default pretense, in which he begins the scene, is a show of contentment with his "little" fortune. As the discussion proceeds, however, Adams's mention of charity triggers Peter's defensive mode, and he begins to rail against charity and wonder aloud where people imagine he can have gotten all the money they seem to think he has. Adams, characteristically, assumes that Peter is complaining in good faith and, thinking to commiserate with him, confides that he never found the reports of the steward's wealth credible, given that "your Wealth is your own Acquisition." The parson has blundered into a sore spot by reminding Peter that his wealth is new rather than inherited, deriving from business rather than from land, and thereby not especially prestigious. It only gets worse from there, as Adams sees Peter frown over the estimate of his fortune at £20,000, construes Peter's unhappiness as arising from modesty (in fact, Peter is worth well over £20,000), and assures him that he personally never thought him worth half that much. The exasperated hypocrite then casts off his pretense of contented poverty and derides both Mr. Adams and the decadent gentry class, revealing his true nature in the process. Peter's attitude to money is dehumanizing: it causes him to be savage toward the poor and prompts him to speak in such locutions as "how much I am worth," as if the value of a man's life could be measured in monetary units. Mr. Adams, by contrast, shows that he has no clue of the value of money; it is a form of ignorance that he has displayed on many previous occasions but perhaps never so appealingly as here. In the presence of his polar opposite, a hypocritical miser, Adams stands out in his most essential qualities and we are reminded that, for all its drawbacks, his unworldliness remains a positive value and a moral touchstone. by frkniax!

×